Definition of hunt in English:



  • 1[with object] Pursue and kill (a wild animal) for sport or food.

    ‘in the autumn they hunted deer’
    [no object] ‘they hunted and fished’
    • ‘Smaller animals such as raccoons, squirrels and rabbits are also hunted for sport.’
    • ‘They tried to hunt a wild chicken by throwing a rock at it.’
    • ‘It took much effort on their part to hunt animals for food.’
    • ‘One of their major jobs was to hunt wild pigs that could devastate the breeding colonies when they were nesting.’
    • ‘Some northern species of squirrels are hunted for their soft, thick fur, and many of the larger species are hunted for food.’
    • ‘His sprawling property, on which he hunts deer and wild turkey, is his safe haven, far from his attention-getting job.’
    • ‘Maybe one day I'd move to a place where I could hunt my own food in the wild, not have to resort to caged rabbits in a basement.’
    • ‘Mr Gillies seems to be of the opinion it is OK to hunt foxes as they themselves kill for enjoyment (like many other animals do).’
    • ‘White-tailed deer, black bear, elk, fox, opossum, raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, and pigeon were hunted for food.’
    • ‘Humans hunt many anseriform species for sport or consumption.’
    • ‘They're animals hunted in Australia for food and fur.’
    • ‘Generations of East Texans had hunted deer with dogs, depending on the howling canines to roust deer from the region's thickets.’
    • ‘I don't know if, like shooting, it's a seasonal thing, or a limit to how many foxes can be hunted and killed within a set period of time.’
    • ‘Tapirs have been extensively hunted for food and sport in some areas, although some Indian tribes refuse to kill tapirs for religious reasons.’
    • ‘Tommy succeeds in protecting the lynx until a poacher begins to hunt the wild cat, sending both Tommy and his protégé fighting for their lives.’
    • ‘We will continue to raise and hunt animals for food, and continue to cull deer and Canada geese that invade our living spaces.’
    • ‘Years ago there was an entire race of your kind, but they were hunted and killed for sport by humans.’
    • ‘It has been my good privilege to hunt wild pigs in five states as well as wart hogs in Africa and the pig-like javelina in Texas.’
    • ‘However, Native peoples are still allowed to hunt these whales for food.’
    • ‘You grow your own food, hunt your own prey, build your own house, don't pay taxes, and sometimes it is associated with communal arrangement.’
    chase, give chase to, pursue, stalk, course, hunt down, run down
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    1. 1.1British Pursue (a wild animal, especially a fox or deer) on horseback using hounds.
      ‘an old dog fox who had been hunted many times before’
      [no object] ‘he used to hunt’
      • ‘Fox cubs are usually born in March, which means that pregnant and nursing vixens are hunted and killed by dogs.’
      • ‘It is still legal to hunt a fox so long as it is not actually killed by the hounds, so hunts therefore believe they will be able to continue chasing foxes so long as it is shot before the dogs reach it.’
      • ‘Now that is not of course the whole story, because if deer were not hunted by hounds they would have to be shot in order to keep the population stable.’
      • ‘Many of us farm terrain which is unsuited to hunting with horses and hounds.’
      • ‘Red foxes are hunted for sport, particularly in Great Britain where the hunt is traditionally an elaborate affair with dogs and mounted hunters.’
      • ‘Already ten times as many foxes are shot each year in Britain than hunted to death with hounds and horses.’
      • ‘In truth, foxes are not nearly as great a menace to livestock as the hunt clubs who hunt foxes with hounds.’
      • ‘Unarmed, harmless, she felt like an innocent doe being hunted by horsemen and snarling hounds.’
      • ‘For International readers, today in the UK hunting foxes with hounds became illegal.’
      • ‘So once the fox does realise that he is being hunted, hounds are already hot on his heels.’
      • ‘‘It was like a pack of hounds hunting a fox; it was terrifying,’ he said.’
      • ‘Finally, a group of protesters storm the Commons chamber in order to assert their right to hunt foxes with hounds.’
      • ‘It isn't just foxhunting though as deer, mink and many other animals are hunted with dogs.’
      • ‘There is no longer a convincing case to hunt foxes with hounds and our democratic institutions are rightly reflecting public opinion on this issue.’
      • ‘These hounds have been bred for 250 years to hunt foxes and now today it comes to an end.’
    2. 1.2British Use (a hound or a horse) for hunting.
      ‘he hunted his hounds every day’
    3. 1.3(of an animal) chase and kill (its prey)
      ‘mice are hunted by weasels and foxes’
      [no object] ‘lionesses hunt in groups’
      • ‘Ever since the coyote and wolf had hunted the deer, the wolf had a new respect for the coyote.’
      • ‘Long-tailed weasels hunt their prey by picking up a scent or sound.’
      • ‘I was studying a spread on lions hunting gazelle when the side door to the garage opened.’
      • ‘Australia had native predators of its own, but foxes hunt in a different and more cunning way and have a broad and adaptable diet.’
      • ‘Securing and maintaining control over some territory for hunting food is the top existential priority of higher animals.’
      • ‘Living with elephants and giraffes, and seeing lions hunt and kill, was fantastic.’
      • ‘On the relatively species-rich mainland, wolves hunt deer, but also moose, mountain goats, and smaller mammals.’
      • ‘Smaller prey such as beavers, rabbits, and other small mammals are usually hunted by lone wolves, and they are a substantial part of their diet.’
      • ‘Suddenly, you find you are surrounded by sedan-chair bearers who track you closely, like lions hunting for weakened antelope.’
      • ‘But lions could hunt the domesticated cows and goats common on the island.’
      • ‘Lions hunt them occasionally but human beings do so a great deal because bushpigs have destructive eating habits.’
      • ‘Death hunted the people as the tiger hunts the prey.’
      • ‘These pythons actively hunt rats and gerbils, following them into their burrows.’
      • ‘Few crustaceans hunt prey as a lion or a tiger does, but the mantis shrimp visually selects and stalks its victim.’
      • ‘Sabre-toothed cats hunt camels and Columbian mammoths do battle with their enormous tusks.’
      • ‘Dogs hunt in packs or at the bidding of their masters.’
      • ‘Is there anything intrinsically different between the hunt as organised by people over those hours as you say, and the normal experience of deer being hunted by wolves?’
      • ‘A bear may hunt and kill an animal at any time but will feed on vegetation when no animals are available.’
      • ‘He had never been this way, and few men would dare to go alone, for the big cats hunted in prides of ten or more, each animal weighing as much as two grown men.’
      • ‘The lion hunts the gazelle for food.’
  • 2[no object] Search determinedly for someone or something.

    ‘he desperately hunted for a new job’
    • ‘Grown ups hunted for a bargain at the book, video, CD and bric-a-brac stalls.’
    • ‘I hunted for and found hundreds of free patterns on the Internet.’
    • ‘Back to my desk I hunted for a line that used roses.’
    • ‘They hunted for months for the right kitchen and then spotted exactly what they were looking for at an ideal home and kitchen fair.’
    • ‘From then on, Denis and I diligently hunted for evidence that human beings were something more than the sum of their conditioned reflexes.’
    • ‘I reached into my pocket and hunted for something to reciprocate.’
    • ‘Youngsters enjoyed a lucky dip, face-painting and a treasure hunt, while parents hunted for bargains and stocked up on delicious homebaked cakes.’
    • ‘Children have made name badges, found interesting sites on the internet and hunted for treasure.’
    • ‘Upon our return to America, I hunted for English collections of Bulgarian tales, eager to share them with friends.’
    • ‘Yet, as I sat, making polite conversation with Aunt Alice, I hunted for every little wrong thing I could find.’
    • ‘Several doors were smashed when the raiders hunted for cash.’
    • ‘Predictably she has hunted for security in her other relationships.’
    • ‘Private adoption agencies' touts hunted for vulnerable, expectant families who already had one or two daughters.’
    • ‘Running through the streets of the maritime city, the local coppers eyed us as we hunted for our getaway driver.’
    • ‘A was idly surfing the web while I hunted for any scrap of cake in the house.’
    • ‘The sun shone as children hunted for hidden treasure and jumped around on the bouncing castle.’
    • ‘Owner Wendy Murphy hunted for her pet until dusk on Saturday but was unable to find him.’
    • ‘As they replayed it out of her view, he saw how gracefully her hips slid as she hunted for the lychees.’
    • ‘Carter hunted for research to bolster the landmark case.’
    • ‘It was my regular practice that I hunted for jokes and anecdotes to lace my column.’
    search, look, look high and low, scour around
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    1. 2.1[with object](of the police) search for (a criminal)
      ‘the gang is being hunted by police’
      [no object] ‘police are hunting for her attacker’
      • ‘Police are hunting for thieves who have been targeting vehicles left by commuters in a car park.’
      • ‘Police are hunting gunmen who shot two men and rammed their car off the road in what could be a drug-related attempted murder.’
      • ‘Police are now hunting the thugs behind the attacks.’
      • ‘Police are hunting a knifeman who stabbed a 14-year-old boy in an unprovoked attack.’
      • ‘Police hunting the thugs who pushed a wheelchair-bound youngster into the road admitted today their search had ‘hit a dead end’.’
      • ‘An armed gang is being hunted by police after launching a series of attacks on town centre shops before speeding off in a getaway car.’
      • ‘Police are hunting the culprits, who if caught can expect to be charged with theft and defacing a public building.’
      • ‘Police are hunting the gunman, who was described as ‘exceptionally dangerous’.’
      • ‘Police are now hunting for the culprits of the attack which is believed to have happened on Tuesday night.’
      • ‘About 200 police are hunting the gunman, a man believed to be in his 40s who drove a four-wheel drive vehicle.’
      • ‘Police are hunting a thief who left a little girl suffering nightmares after he stole a model reindeer from her the front garden.’
      • ‘Police are hunting thieves who kicked a hole in a shop window during an attempted robbery.’
      • ‘Transport police are hunting the culprits and appeal for anybody who saw what happened to come forward.’
      • ‘A second person has been charged in connection with the gang attack while police are hunting for a third suspect.’
      • ‘Police are hunting a vicious thug who inflicted serious injuries on an innocent man in daylight.’
      • ‘Police were today hunting a thug who threw a pensioner to the ground and stole her handbag in broad daylight in a busy street.’
      • ‘A gang of three men are being hunted by police in connection with the theft of a £50,000 tractor.’
      • ‘Thieves who tried to steal a selection of car wheels were being hunted by police.’
      • ‘Two masked post office robbers, who may have been armed with a gun, are today being hunted by police.’
      • ‘The two other suspects are being hunted by police.’
    2. 2.2[with object]Search for and capture someone.
      ‘the killers will be hunted down’
      • ‘The message to criminals out there is to watch your backs because we are hunting you down and you will be caught.’
      • ‘Thus, when the American government hunted him down, he couldn't turn down their offer to become an International Spy.’
      • ‘Units inside Algeria were hunted down and killed.’
      • ‘It was the one where he had been hunted down and captured.’
      • ‘Now is the time to do the right thing before you cross the line, because if you do hurt her, you will be hunted down like the coward you are, and you'll pay.’
      • ‘The government hunted him down and charged him with 20 counts, including stealing computer secrets, and he faces up to 70 years in jail.’
      • ‘At one point, a tiny disturbance was noted on the far horizon, and the group began to panic, thinking that an enemy force was hunting them down.’
      • ‘Nathan was probably on a frantic search to hunt me down and the quieter and in the dark I kept the better.’
      • ‘They could prove tax evasion, and hunted him down on that.’
      • ‘We have some problems with some gangsters over there and we're hunting them down and bringing them to justice.’
      chase, give chase to, pursue, stalk, course, hunt down, run down
      View synonyms
  • 3technical [no object] (of a device or system) oscillate about a desired speed, position, or state.

    ‘on weak stereo signals this circuit can hunt over mono and stereo in a very disconcerting manner’
    • ‘In one aborted poem I explored the feeling by examining the way a tuning circuit hunts up and down its scale to locate and fix on a signal.’
    1. 3.1(of an aircraft or rocket) oscillate about a mean flight path.
  • 4Bell Ringing
    [no object] (in change-ringing) move the place of a bell in a simple progression.


  • 1An act of hunting wild animals or game.

    ‘a bear-hunt’
    • ‘Such holidays occur after good hunts or when large game animals, such as an elephant or a wild pig, have been captured.’
    • ‘She joined the king on his long hunts for large game throughout the countryside, under his tutelage was becoming a skilled archer and rider.’
    • ‘It is the end of the hunt when the animal is torn to pieces that the majority of people do not like.’
    • ‘One answer for the guy with no time for a proper hunting trip is a weekend hunt at a game ranch.’
    • ‘There were also a number of lesser known events such as mock sea battles involving ships, animal circus acts, animals fighting animals and animal hunts.’
    • ‘Over the course of a couple of days, and between dinners, football games and quail hunts, John tries to tell Claire how he feels, while Jeremy begins slowly to warm to Gloria's charms.’
    • ‘Although opportunities to hunt the world's great game animals have never been greater, the cost of such hunts have never been higher.’
    • ‘In more recent years the businessman was a big sponsor of the annual hunt in the area, which was a great social event for the local community.’
    • ‘There are chapters that walk women through various hunts such as upland game, deer, waterfowl, wild turkey and antelope.’
    • ‘The shot itself in a big game hunt just means the hunt is over.’
    • ‘Maybe for some, but for me it's more akin to the rush of a big game hunt.’
    • ‘There were parties and picnics, visits to one another's homes, holidays in the country or at the seaside, and game hunts.’
    • ‘Loud noises scared the game during the hunt and queered the atmosphere around the fire.’
    • ‘During a canned rhino hunt, the animal is kept in a small enclosure, preventing it from running off and, in most cases, it is so tame that it makes an easy prey in any case.’
    • ‘It is likely that man would have taken advantage of bad weather during these hunts, hiding in dense fog or waiting in areas where animals gathered during a storm.’
    • ‘So they try to get in one or two last hunts over the season's closing days.’
    • ‘An annual hunt of roughly 20 animals per year was inaugurated in 1929 to supply meat to local missions and hospitals.’
    • ‘Guided big game hunts are also sometimes offered.’
    • ‘Following a deer hunt, he met some companions at their vehicle and had just removed the earplugs he wears while hunting.’
    • ‘Royal participation in foxhunting is more likely to come to the notice of the media than other types of hunting, because hunts are often open to the public and always take place in well-populated areas.’
    chase, pursuit, stalking, course, coursing
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    1. 1.1An association of people who meet regularly to hunt, especially with hounds.
      • ‘One of the reasons given by the hunts for preserving fox hunting is that it is necessary to control the fox population.’
      • ‘The colourful sight of the hunt with its hounds and huntsmen cut quite a dash as it passed through the village of Grangecon.’
      • ‘If it is banned, have the opponents thought about the future of activities such as point-to-points, pony clubs and agricultural shows regularly sponsored by local hunts?’
      • ‘Sunday's show has a series of classes for both foxhounds and terriers, although the competition is only open to animals belonging to the hunt.’
      • ‘Also, as a dog lover, I object to the thousands of hounds that the hunt kill each year.’
      • ‘The hunt's Hound Show sees dogs which have been kept during the summer reunited with those which have been kennelled.’
      • ‘Mr Timm added that followers were permitted to meet the hunt wherever they came from, as long as they kept to the roads and did not stray on to the surrounding fields.’
      • ‘So, in Dumfriesshire or Perthshire, the hunts still meet and dogs are still used to flush out foxes.’
      • ‘The hunt met again two days later at Downham, near Clitheroe.’
      • ‘Of the 91 foxes legally killed by the 250 hunts which met in England and Wales on Saturday, none are believed to have been killed in the north west.’
      • ‘The hunt gathered for a final meet on Wednesday - the last time that the harriers would ever run with the pack before the ban came into force.’
      • ‘Other hunts may claim that hounds are chasing rabbits or rats, both of which are legal quarry (hares and mice are protected).’
      • ‘Hundreds of packs of fox hounds, hare hounds, deer hounds and other hunts and clubs are planning to meet on Saturday, the day after the ban comes into force.’
      • ‘Mr Todhunter has been working as huntsman for the hunt since 1988, looking after its 43 hounds and 11 puppies.’
      • ‘Richard Wilson said the hunt would continue to meet but abide by the requirements of the Hunting Act.’
      • ‘‘In Scotland, it has made a big impact on the foxes,’ she said, of a piece of legislation that allows hunts to use hounds to flush out foxes, but not to kill them.’
      • ‘The anti-hunt brigade regularly turn out whenever a hunt meets.’
      • ‘Police believe there will be a huge turn-out at the six hunts taking place in Wiltshire today, the last day hunting will be legal, and again on Saturday when eight hunts will be meeting in the county.’
      • ‘Both hunts met again on Saturday to exercise the hounds.’
      • ‘The meet and the hunt provided a dash of colour in the lives of all during the otherwise drab British winter.’
    2. 1.2An area where hunting takes place.
  • 2A search.

    ‘police launched a hunt for the killer’
    • ‘British detectives are liaising with counterparts in France in the hunt for the men.’
    • ‘A senior detective who led the hunt for two armed robbers behind a series of terrifying raids across Bradford today told of the desperate race against time to catch them before someone was shot.’
    • ‘The hunt for investors in Scottish rugby continues apace.’
    • ‘Detectives yesterday continued their hunt for a hooded man seen fleeing the scene and appealed for a young couple who may have seen him fleeing to come forward.’
    • ‘Detectives leading the hunt for her killer said the sighting on August 13 may be unconnected but stressed it was vital they traced the mystery man.’
    • ‘The image came out as detectives stepped up their hunt for the teenager because they fear he may strike again.’
    • ‘When police go before the city in the hunt for bigger budgets, they claim to be short staffed and under-equipped.’
    • ‘It was a hunt for the things observed or imagined by that ancient author, and lying behind those words: the life of antiquity, actual or imaginative.’
    • ‘At the same time, cities and counties have become increasingly competitive in the hunt to attract technology-based business.’
    • ‘Many search and rescue teams from around the world joined the hunt for survivors.’
    • ‘Police also checked the river banks and divers searched a nearby drain yesterday in the hunt for clues.’
    • ‘They have scoured homeless hostels, mounted a publicity campaign and Fran's parents even hired a private detective in their desperate hunt for clues.’
    • ‘In their hunt, detectives searched more than 350 sites, including 40 under water.’
    • ‘Frustrated detectives are turning their hunt for an expert gang of jewel thieves closer to home.’
    • ‘Eastern Division detectives yesterday intensified the hunt for a woman in her mid-20s, who is believed to be part of an extortion ring.’
    • ‘International search and rescue teams and sniffer dogs have joined the hunt for survivors.’
    • ‘Accordingly, the hunt for the leaker continues, with much speculation over who it might have been.’
    • ‘Detectives launched a hunt for the Leeds University student involving underwater search teams, mounted officers and sniffer dogs.’
    • ‘Police say they are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry in their hunt for the 21-year-old.’
    • ‘Detectives working on the hunt for the attacker are now sifting through the information from the callers and hoping it will give the inquiry an extra boost.’
    search, look, quest
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  • 3An oscillating motion about a desired speed, position, or state.


Old English huntian, of Germanic origin. Sense 4 dates from the late 17th century, and is probably based on the idea of the bells pursuing one another; it gave rise to the sense ‘oscillate about a desired speed’ (late 19th century).